Robert C. Solomon - Passionate Life - Raoul Vaneigem

We're making our way through Robert C. Solomon's The Joy of Philosophy: Thinking Thin versus the Passionate Life. Our reading is contextualized by a quote from Raoul Vaneigem's The Revolution of Everyday Life which is perhaps the most succinct summary of the LeisureArts experiment: "The work of art of the future will be the construction of a passionate life."

In the preface to his book, Solomon positions his work as being in the spirit of Nietzsche. This is not the clich├ęd Nietzsche of depressed high school students or pseudo-intellectual artists, but the joyous and wild Nietzsche of informed philosophical scholarship. He describes Nietzsche (worth quoting in its entirety):

"He is a dancer, a philosophical prankster, an ironist in the grand tradition of Socrates, a jokester and a comic who includes everything in his philosophy - health hints, recipes, gossip, bumper stickers, nursery rhymes, advice to the lovelorn, pop psychology, popular physics, a bit of the occult and esoteric, social commentary, mythological history, contentious philology, family feuds, political diatribes, libelous insults, declarations of war, petty complaints, megalomania, blasphemies, bad jokes, overly clever puns, parodies, and plagiarisms. Professionalized philosophers complain about the lack of rigor, even the absence of consistent thesis. But why ruin such a rich feast with the fibrous tendrils of mere argument? Nietzsche knew how to get joy out of philosophy, his 'gaya scienza.' "

As Solomon positions himself relative to Nietzsche, we'd like to position ourselves relative to Solomon - not in having any pretension to compete or mimic, but sharing "his sense of joy." We are reading his arguments for a more joyful philosophy through the lens of art discourse. Thus when he complains "Philosophy has become too 'serious' a 'profession' with its insiders and 'experts.' " We see this as an especially apt summary. Solomon wants to escape the "thin" world of professional discourse into the "thick, fat, and omnivorous" world itself. He offers a humble book, a book that is not "pure" in a professional sense:

"The book is not, in the sense that is so often invoked with moralizing righteousness, serious. I would rather have it read as 'just playing around with (serious) ideas.' That (dare I say?) is what philosophy is. Not serious, just having fun with ideas, ideas that really mean something."

This is the sort of fun that LeisureArts hopes to explore and the kind of fun sorely missing from the drearily professional art world...(more later)